Women Will Dominate General Election Ballots in Iowa and New Mexico This Fall


Congressional and statewide primaries were held on Tuesday in seven states: Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota. Results were also reported from Idaho’s May 19th primary election. Due to the reliance on mail-in voting, some races remain too close to call, so this post will be updated as results are determined. Full context about women in the 2020 elections, including candidate lists, summaries, results from previous primaries, and historical comparisons, are available via the Center for American Women and Politics’ (CAWP) Election Watch page.

Among the most notable results for women:

  • Women are the majority of congressional nominees in Iowa and New Mexico this year.
    • There are competitive all-woman contests in Iowa for the U.S. Senate and in Iowa’s 1st and 2nd congressional districts. This is especially notable because Iowa elected its first woman to Congress in 2014 and its first women to the U.S. House in 2018.
    • Women are 5 of 6 U.S. House nominees already selected in New Mexico, with a woman leading in the Republican primary election in New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district. If she secures the nomination, all major-party nominees for the U.S. House from New Mexico will be women.
  • New Mexico is likely to have an all-woman delegation to the U.S. House in 2021, and that delegation could be all women of color.
    • In New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district – an open seat contest – Teresa Leger Fernandez (D) won the Democratic nomination and is strongly favored to win in November. If she succeeds, New Mexico’s House delegation would be all women in 2021. This would not be the first all-woman House delegation, but it will be the largest. All-woman U.S. House delegations of more than one member have served from both Hawaii and New Hampshire.
    • If Fernandez wins and incumbent Representative Xochitl Torres Small successfully retains her seat in November, New Mexico’s House delegation would also be all women of color in 2021. This would be the largest all-woman of color U.S. House delegation to date. Women of color have previously held both offices in Hawaii's two-member House delegation.
  • At the congressional level, 11 woman versus woman general election congressional contests resulted from Tuesday’s primaries: IA Senate, IA-01, IA-02, IN-02, IN-05, NM-01, NM-02, NM-03, PA-04, PA-05, and PA-07. These add to the 10 woman versus woman contests already decided this primary season. By comparison, there were 33 total woman versus woman general election congressional contests in 2018 at the congressional and statewide executive levels. This year’s contest for Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction will also be between 2 women.
    • Among these congressional contests, two districts, IA-02 and NM-03, are all but guaranteed to be pick-ups for women in Congress, and another district, IN-05, will see a new woman enter Congress in the seat of retiring Representative Susan Brooks. The remaining races feature a woman incumbent.
  • No women advanced in South Dakota’s congressional elections and women nominees are not favored to win Idaho and Maryland’s congressional contests, making it likely that these states’ congressional delegations will remain all-male in 2021.

Idaho

Indiana

Iowa

Maryland

Montana

New Mexico

Pennsylvania

South Dakota


Idaho

U.S. Senate

Paulette Jordan (D) won the Democratic nomination to challenge incumbent Republican Senator Jim Risch (R) in Idaho’s U.S. Senate contest. Jordan was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Idaho in 2018, becoming the first Native American woman to win a major-party nomination for governor in the U.S. If successful in 2020, Jordan would be the first Native American woman in the U.S. Senate and the first woman senator from Idaho. However, Cook Political Report currently rates this race as “Solid Republican,” favoring the incumbent senator.

U.S. House

There are no women currently serving in Idaho’s two-member delegation to the U.S. House and that will not change in 2021. Women are 0 of 4 (0%) major-party nominees for U.S. House in Idaho. One (1D) woman House candidate – Staniela Nikolova – was unsuccessful in her primary bid for the U.S. House.


Indiana

U.S. House

Women are currently 2 (2R) of 9 members of the Indiana delegation to the U.S. House (22.2%). Incumbent Representative Susan Brooks (R) is not running for re-election this year.

Women are 7 (4D, 3R) of 18 (38.9%) major-party nominees for U.S. House in Indiana, including 4 of 9 (44.4%) Democrats and 3 of 9 (33.3%) Republicans. 10 (8D, 2R) women House candidates were unsuccessful in their primary bids for the U.S. House.

  • Incumbent Jackie Walorski (R) will be challenged by Pat Hackett (D) in an all-woman contest in Indiana’s 2nd congressional district. Cook Political Report currently rates this contest as “Solid Republican.”
  • Victoria Spartz (R) and Christina Hale (D) will compete in an all-woman contest to replace retiring Representative Susan Brooks (R) in Indiana’s 5th congressional district this fall. Cook Political Report currently rates the contest as “Lean Republican.”
  • 3 (2D, 1R) more women will run as challengers to incumbents in districts that strongly favor their opponents.

Of the 7 (4D, 3R) women who are major-party nominees for the U.S. House from Indiana, 4  (3D, 1R) are women of color, including 2 (1D, 1R) Black women – Jeannine Lee Lake (D, IN-06) and Susan Smith (R, IN-07), 1 (1D) multi-racial woman – Thomasina Marsili (D, IN-08), and 1 (1D) Latina – Christina Hale (D, IN-05). If elected, Christina Hale (D) would be the first Latina to represent Indiana in Congress.

Governor and Lieutenant Governor

No women ran for Governor of Indiana this year, but current Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch will run for re-election with Governor Eric Holcomb in November. No woman has ever served as governor of Indiana.


Iowa

U.S. Senate

Incumbent Senator Joni Ernst (R) is the first and only woman senator from Iowa. She is up for re-election this year and was unopposed for the Republican nomination. Theresa Greenfield (D) won the Democratic nomination to challenge Ernst in November. Cook Political Report currently rates this contest as “Lean Republican.” If Greenfield defeats Ernst in the fall, she would be the first Democratic woman in the U.S. Senate from Iowa.   

U.S. House

Women are 2 (2D) of 4 members of the Iowa delegation to the U.S. House (50%). Both incumbent Representatives Cindy Axne (D) and Abby Finkenauer (D) were elected in 2018; they are the first women to serve in the U.S. House from Iowa.

Women are 5 (3D, 2R) of 8 (62.5%) major-party nominees for U.S. House in Iowa, including 3 of 4 (75%) Democrats and 2 of 4 (50%) Republicans. All women House candidates in Iowa were successful in their primary bids for the U.S. House.

  • Both (2D) of Iowa’s incumbent women representatives are running for re-election in competitive general election contests. Both won their seats for the first time in 2018 by flipping their districts from Republican to Democrat.
    • In Iowa’s 1st congressional district, Ashley Hinson (R) will challenge incumbent Representative Abby Finkenauer (D) in a contest deemed a toss-up by Cook Political Report.
    • In Iowa’s 3rd congressional district, incumbent Representative Cindy Axne (D) will seek to hold her seat in another contest deemed a toss-up by Cook Political Report.
  • In Iowa’s 2nd congressional district, Rita Hart (D) and Marianette Miller-Meeks (R) will compete in an all-woman contest that Cook Political Report currently rates as a toss-up. Regardless of which woman wins, Iowa will send a new woman member to the U.S. House in 2021.

All 5 (3D, 2R) women major-party nominees for the U.S. House from Iowa are White women. Iowa has never sent a woman of color to the U.S. Congress.


Maryland

U.S. House

There are no women currently serving in Maryland’s 8-member delegation to the U.S. House.

As of Wednesday morning, a woman is 1 of 11 (9.1%) major-party nominees for U.S. House in Maryland, including 0 of 7 (0%) Democrats and 1 of 4 (25%) Republicans already selected. 6 (3D, 3R) women remain in 3 primary contests that remain too close to call. Another 13 (10D, 3R) women House candidates were unsuccessful in their primary bids for the U.S. House.

  • The only woman that has secured a major-party nomination in Maryland’s U.S. House contests as of Wednesday morning is Kim Klacik (R), who will challenge now-incumbent Representative Kweisi Mfume in Maryland’s 7th congressional district. Mfume defeated Klacik in the April special election to fill the remainder of Elijah Cummings’ term by 48.7 points and he is expected to win the full term in November.
  • Women candidates remaining in the races that remain too close to call as of Wednesday morning are all running to challenge incumbents in districts that strongly favor their opponent.
  • Together, these results suggest that it will be unlikely for Maryland to elect a woman to the U.S. House in 2020.

The only woman nominee thus far in Maryland’s House contests – Kim Klacik (R) – is Black. Of the 6 (3D, 3R) women who remain in races that are too close to call, 2 (2R) are Black: Patricia Rogers (R, MD-08) and Bridgette Cooper (R, MD-08).


Montana

U.S. Senate

No woman has ever served in the U.S. Senate from Montana. There are no women candidates running to challenge incumbent Senator Steve Daines (R) this year.

U.S. House

No woman currently represents Montana in the U.S. House. In fact, no woman has represented Montana in Congress since Jeanette Rankin left office in 1943. Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress, serving first from 1917 to 1919 and again from 1941 to 1943.

In 2020, Kathleen Williams (D) is 1 of 2 major-party nominees for Montana’s open and at-large U.S. House seat. Williams was also the Democratic nominee for this seat in 2018, when she was defeated by incumbent Representative Greg Gianforte (R) by 4.7 points. Cook Political Report currently rates this contest as “Likely Republican.”

One (1R) woman – Debra Lamm – was unsuccessful in her primary bid for the U.S. House.

Statewide Elected Executive Office

Six statewide executive positions are up for election in Montana this year. Women are 4 (1D, 3R) of 12 (33.3%) nominees selected for these offices. 3 (2D, 1R) women were defeated in primary elections for statewide executive offices in Montana.

  • Businesswoman Whitney Williams was the only woman running for Governor of Montana in an open-seat, competitive election. She was defeated in the Democratic primary election.
  • Kristen Juras (R) is running mate to current-Representative and gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte. Together, they secured the Republican nomination for November.
  • Incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen (R) will be challenged by Melissa Romano (D) in an all-woman general election contest.
  • Christi Jacobsen won the Republican nomination for the open seat of Secretary of State. If successful in November, she would be the first Republican woman to hold that office in Montana.


New Mexico

U.S. Senate

No woman has ever served in the U.S. Senate from New Mexico and that will not change in 2021. Just one woman – Elisa Martinez (R) – ran for the U.S. Senate this year and she was defeated in the Republican primary.

U.S. House

Women are currently 2 of 3 members of the New Mexico delegation to the U.S. House (66.7%).

All 6 (3D, 3R) major-party U.S. House nominees from New Mexico in 2020 are women. 4 (2D, 2R) women House candidates were unsuccessful in their primary bids for the U.S. House.

  • Both (2D) of New Mexico’s incumbent women representatives – who were first elected in 2018 – are running for re-election this year. Both were unopposed in their primary contests.
    • In New Mexico’s 1st congressional district, Representative Deb Haaland (D) is strongly favored to win re-election in November. She will be challenged by Michelle Garcia Holmes (R) in an all-woman contest.
    • In New Mexico’s 2nd congressional district, Representative Xochitl Torres-Small (D) will be challenged by Yvette Herrell (R) in a re-match of their 2018 all-woman contest. Small defeated Herrell by just 1.8 points in 2018 and Cook Political Report currently rates this contest as a toss-up.
  • In New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district – an open seat contest – Teresa Leger Fernandez (D) won the Democratic nomination and is strongly favored to win in November. Her opponent is also a woman: Alexis Johnson (R). Both women are Latina.
  • New Mexico’s House delegation is all but certain to be all women in 2021. This would not be the first all-woman House delegation, but it will be the largest. All-woman U.S. House delegations of more than one member have served from both Hawaii and New Hampshire.  
    • If Representative Small successfully retains her seat in November, New Mexico’s House delegation would also be all women of color in 2021. This would be the largest all-woman of color U.S. House delegation to date. Women of color have previously held both offices in Hawaii’s two-member House delegation.

Of the 6 (3D, 3R) women major-party nominees for the U.S. House from New Mexico, 5 (3D, 2R) are women of color. Incumbent Representative Deb Haaland (D, NM-01) is one of the first Native American women in Congress and 4 (2D, 2R) other women nominees are Latina: incumbent Representative Xochitl Torres Small (D, NM-02), Teresa Leger Fernandez (D, NM-03), and Michelle Garcia Holmes (R, NM-01).


Pennsylvania

U.S. House

Women are 4 (4D) of 18 members of the Pennsylvania delegation to the U.S. House (22.2%).

Women are 10 (7D, 3R) of 36 (27.8%) major-party nominees for U.S. House in Pennsylvania, including 7 of 18 (38.9%) Democrats and 3 of 18 (16.7%) Republicans already selected. 

  • All 4 (4D) women incumbents – Representatives Madeleine Dean (D), Chrissy Houlahan (D), Mary Gay Scanlon (D), and Susan Wild (D) – were unopposed in the primary election and will seek re-election in November. They were all elected for the first time in 2018. While Dean, Houlahan, and Scanlon are strongly favored to win in November, Wild’s re-election contest in Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district is deemed more competitive. 
    • Dean will be challenged by Republican nominee Kathy Barnette (R) in Pennsylvania’s 4th congressional district.
    • Scanlon will be challenged by Republican nominee Dasha Pruett (R) in Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district.
    • Wild will be challenged by Republican nominee Lisa Scheller (R) in Pennsylania’s 7th congressional district.
  • 6 (3D, 3R) women won nominations to challenge incumbents in November. Among them, 2 (1D, 1R) are running in contests deemed competitive by Cook Political Report. Christina Finello (D) is will challenge incumbent Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R) in Pennsylvania’s 1st congressional district, a contest  rated as “Lean Republican” by Cook Political Report. In Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district, Lisa Scheller (R) will challenge incumbent Representative Susan Wild (D) in a contest rated as “Lean Democratic” by Cook Political Report.

Of the 10 (7D, 3R) women who are major-party nominees for the U.S. House from Pennsylvania, just 1 (1R) is a woman of color: Kathy Barnette (R, PA-04) is Black. Pennsylvania has never sent a woman of color to Congress.

Statewide Elected Executive Office

Women do not currently hold any statewide elected executive offices in Pennsylvania.

Women are 3 (1D, 2R) of 6 (50%) major-party nominees for statewide executive offices up for election in Pennsylvania, including 1 of 3 (33.3%) Democrats and 2 of 3 (66.7%) Republicans. 

  • Heather Heidelbaugh (R) was unopposed in the primary and will challenge incumbent Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) in November.
  • Stacy Garrity (R) was unopposed in the primary and will challenge State Treasurer Joseph Torsella (D) in November.
  • Nina Ahmad (D) won the Democratic nomination for State Auditor. If elected in November, she would be the first woman of color - and first South Asian woman - to be elected statewide in Pennsylvania.


South Dakota

U.S. Senate

Just one woman – Scyller Borglum (R) – ran for the U.S. Senate in South Dakota. She was defeated by incumbent Senator Mike Rounds (R).

U.S. House

Just one woman – Liz Marty May (R) – ran for South Dakota’s at-large U.S. House seat. She was defeated by incumbent Representative Dusty Johnson (R).